Springdale, Ark. (KFTA) — Northwest Arkansas know Komen Ozark for the Swing for the Cure and the More than Pink Walk. But, there is also a team fighting for change at the state capitol.
“Really changing the breast cancer landscape is not going to move as fast as we want it to if we do not address public policy,” Komen Ozark Executive Director Lauren Marquette said.
Komen Ozark has invested millions into fighting breast cancer in our community. But the work in Little Rock can be just as impactful.
“It’s really rewarding for us on an advocacy level when we know that there is an issue and Komen Ozark can address that issue through public policy,” Komen Ozark Director of Mission Services Vicki Cowling said.
That is what happened this past legislative session. Komen Ozark helped get new legislation passed that would exempt certain cancer patients from step therapy: a practice that is used by some insurance providers.
“Oftentimes they want you to fail first on a lesser medication before going to a more effective medication,” Cowling said.
But that could take months.
“We know that metastatic breast cancer can move very very quickly,” Cowling said. She said that step therapy is not always a viable option.
This is Komen Ozark’s second legislative win in recent years.
“Most of the time there’s not much opposition from the lawmakers. We’re talking about cancer. That is not a partisan issue,” State Sen. Greg Leding (D-District 4) said.
Sen. Leding has helped with the step therapy issue and another bill improving insurance coverage for oral chemo treatments.
“We want patients to focus on getting better and to living the best quality of life that they can,” Marquette said.
So now, there is one less thing for patients to worry about.
Arkansas is just the sixth state in the country to pass this type of step therapy legislation. But Komen Ozark will not stop there. It will now start working with our federal lawmakers to try and make similar changes in Washington, D.C.